Raise High the Roofbeams...
"Ceilings in new suburban tract housing got taller more than a decade ago. Instead of 8 feet-a dimension that resulted from two 4-foot-wide drywall sheets laid horizontally-home builders built 9-foot ceilings. At first, taller ceilings were offered as extras, but soon 9 feet became standard, so much so that drywall manufacturers started producing 4½–foot-wide sheets. Not be outdone, the builders of custom homes went to 10 feet."
"Are taller ceilings yet another example of wretched architectural excess? Not necessarily. In fact, it is low ceilings that are the aberration. Throughout the 19th and early part of the 20th centuries, ceilings in middle-class homes, offices, and institutional buildings were 10-12 feet or more."
"It's not just a matter of prestige-a tall room looks better proportioned. Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio devoted a chapter of his famous treatise, The Four Books on Architecture, to the subject and included rules to calculate ceiling heights: Add the length and breadth of a room and divide by two; or, more simply, make the room as high as it is broad."
Thanks to Franny Ritchie